Summary: Task: To create interest for supporting the ministry of Asbury.
[S] This summer the Fink’s took one of the most memorable vacations we’ve ever had. We only had two predetermined places to be. The first was to go to Alcove NY to try and locate the home my wife Luckie grew up in. And the second was my sister’s home in Buffalo. Other than that we could go where we wanted when we wanted. So each day we’d determine where we wanted to go and drive in that direction. After spending a couple of nights in Gettysburg, PA we decided to travel north a couple of hours to Lancaster, PA, Amish country.
Our plans were to skip breakfast and drive into Lancaster and eat some homemade Amish food at an Amish restaurant and then spend the afternoon shopping at all the Amish stores for handmade gifts.
We were all pretty excited and couldn’t wait. As we closed in on Lancaster we began looking for tell tale signs that we were in Amish country, the black buggies pulled by a single horse. We were surprised when we drove into Lancaster without seeing a single horse and carriage. As we entered town we started looking for signs advertising Amish food and wares. We were very hungry. We crisscrossed the town craning our necks to look in the windows as we drive by. It was strange. Finally somebody asked the obvious question, “Where’s the Amish people?” It was like they had never been there. Finally we spotted a unhitched black buggy in front of a building just outside of town. It was the tourist information center. So we pulled in and told one of the attendants that we were from out of town and were looking for an Amish restaurant and some stores in the area. The man smiled, and leaning back in his chair he turned his head to a co-worker and said, “Here’s another one that thinks there’s Amish in Lancaster.”
“What?” I said. The attendant told us that there an Amish store in Lancaster. All the Amish lived outside of town on their farms where they also sold their crafts. This story illustrates that importance of knowing where you are going if you want to get there.
I have a question for you. “Where’s our Amish country?” “Where are we going as a church?” “Where do we hope to be a couple of years from now?”
After visiting with many of you around the coffee table, the kitchen table and the conference table I have learned that we don’t know the answer to those questions and we don’t like that. We find it frustrating. But I have also learned that we want to know and go somewhere if we only knew where that was. In many of those table side chats the tables were turned on me and I was often asked, “Where do you see us going?” “What’s your vision for our church?”
I’ve been trying to hold off on answering this as long as I could so I wouldn’t rush into anything. But at the same time I’m aware that there’s a sense of urgency with knowing where we’re going. We don’t want to wait any longer than we have to. And so today, I’m going to share with you what has been stirring within me regarding this very issue.
I believe our destination is going to be linked to three key passages of scripture. I believe these passages will form the nucleus of our purpose and set the direction of our intention. The first is [S] Mark 12.28-31 reads, “One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (TNIV)
The second key passage is Matthew 28.19-20. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28.19-20, TNIV)
And the third is John 15.8 where Jesus is quoted as saying, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (TNIV). [S]
The word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God.
When I look at these passages as a whole our destination becomes clear. I believe Jesus wants us to make thousands of devoted disciples who are passionate for God and compassionate for their neighbor. No matter how many times I have asked God to give me a glimpse of his preferred future for Asbury four simple words bounce off the walls of my soul with increasing intensity. [S] And they are – Love God, Love Neighbor.